The Other Side of Trip Planning

For most trip planning the focus is on the trip itself, but if you have a family there is much more to plan than just your hiking. Considering that you are going to be gone for weeks or even months it pays to make sure that your “house” is in order before you leave.

Before I leave on my long hikes I make sure the following items are addressed:

  • Ask Permission
    • Start by asking your significant other if it would be acceptable to leave home for an extended period of time.  I am lucky that my wife is supportive of my need to get lost in the woods for extended periods of time.
  • Itinerary/Map(s)
    • I am always careful to leave a detailed itinerary of my hike. The itinerary includes a rough daily mileage, anticipated destination by day, and mail drops. Before leaving I thoroughly discuss my plans with Anne and take time to show her on the map where I plan to stay each day. I also leave a copy of the map(s) for her to reference when we talk on the phone to give her an idea of where I am on the trail.
  • Safety Phrase
    • I am confident in my safety on the trail, but what if something were to happen? We have come up with a safety phrase I will use in the event that I am in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation where I have access my phone. Seems like a little overkill, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared if something were to go wrong.
  • House and Home
    • Are there any pressing issues with the house? Aside from my wife’s safety, nothing is more of a concern to me than having a major mechanical failure while I am gone. Prior to my departure, I check the house and outbuildings for potential issues. The big items on my radar are the heating system, hot water tank, and septic.  I service the riding mower and make sure the gas cans are full.
  • Automobile
    • Inspections and oil changes are all done before leaving.
  • Email/Social Media
    • A list of all my login information for accounts, email and social media is kept on file in a safe and secure location. If something serious were to happen to me this would allow Anne access to my accounts and contacts. Death or serious injury isn’t something I like to think about, but I also don’t want to leave Anne in a more difficult situation.
  • Bills/Investments/Retirement
    • Since Anne is in charge of the money, I don’t worry about bills getting paid. We do sit down and talk about the bills and finances before I leave. She has access to all my investments and important documents. I also check my investments/retirement to confirm that she is still listed as my beneficiary on my retirement accounts.
  • Pets
    • While I am away Anne has the added responsibility of taking care of the pets. My goal is to make sure that they have adequate food and supplies so she doesn’t need to go out on extra errands. I make sure collars and leashes are readily available and any other items that she may need. This year we will have quail for her to look after, so it is important that the food and water is stocked up just to make things a little easier for her.
  • Travel Bag
    • Anne will be venturing out to meet me at the finish of the Long Trail in Vermont this coming summer. Our plan is to spend a few days hanging in Vermont visiting friends and seeing the sights. To prepare for this, I will have a duffle bag packed with town clothing and my toiletries that she can just throw in the truck.

This is just a short list of the items that I will get accomplished before I leave on my next trip.  I have found that having done these major items enables me to hit the trail and focus on my hike.  I think that it also makes my wife happy knowing I’ve made things as easy as possible for her while I’m gone and will hopefully prevent her from having to deal with any major issues while I am away.

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